|by Murray Archibald|
|Sundance 2005 Eighteen Years of Sundancing The Unspeakable Joy of the Razzle Dazzle Rainbow Show
On Saturday and Sunday, September 3-4, the Rehoboth Beach summer season will once again end with what for many of us has become a Labor Day traditionSundance 2005. Now in its 18th year, this event that was started to celebrate love, has truly become a labor of love that involves hundreds of people and raises a huge amount of money for Sussex County AIDS Council and CAMP Rehoboth.
Sundance, as I'm sure most of the readers of this magazine know by now, was started in 1988 as a 10th anniversary party for Steve Elkins and me. That first year we raised a little over $6,000; last year we cleared over $190,000. Each and every Sundance between then and now, comes, for me, with its own extraordinary memories, stories, and themes. In a way I remember them all, and yet, at the same time, they have merged into one long and unending chain that is simply Sundance.
This year's Sundance theme is The Unspeakable Joy of the Razzle Dazzle Rainbow Show, and in a way it sums up all the Sundances for me. No matter the hard work that goes into them, or the glitz and the glamour surrounding them...at the heart of Sundance there is joy. Sundance grew out of the dark days of the AIDS epidemic, in an era when we spent way too much time in hospitals and funeral homes. It was our way of finding hope, our way of fighting frustration and outrage, our way of celebrating life even when there was too much death around us. Most of all it was our way of saying that no matter how bad something gets, we can still find joy, we can still experience love, and we still can find a way to dance.
My 2005 Sundance painting, my whole 2005 body of work for that matter, is about giving wings to the heartabout finding ways to set joy free, to allow it to rise out of the stress and structure of our day to day lives. The figures I've used to represent this joyous freedom (and the ones we are using in all of the Sundance 2005 graphics) come from this year's painting titled Heart (In The Wings). They are a kind of butterfly/heart combination that I call "heartflies," (and that my sister Mary Beth Ramsey who designs all the Sundance graphics and I have taken to calling, "Flora, Fauna, and Meriweather" after the three fairies in Disney's Sleeping Beauty).
Much of the joy of Sundance, for me, comes from the people who work so hard to make it happen each year. There are hundreds of Sponsors, Supporters, Hosts, volunteers, and auction donors and they represent an amazing cross section of our community. Many of them have been involved with Sundance in some form or other since the early days of the event.
On all the invitations and ads there appears a short paragraph that lists the Sundance co-chairs and Production Team Captains. Each and every one of them oversee some part of the Sundance engine and help organize and run the many volunteer teams who make the event happen. Many of them have quietly been doing their job for years now, and Sundance would be much harder to produce without them. You can see the list in the Sundance ad on page 38, and I say this as a personal thanks because I depend on each and every one of them. Anyone wishing to get involved in the work of Sundance should speak to the people on this list as they are the ones who can tell you where help is neededthough they might just put you to work on the spot.
Sundance might have started as an anniversary party but long ago it became a celebration for the whole community. It has become over the years a rituala rite of passagea time to rejoice in the bounty and exuberance of the summer season even as it comes to an end. Though September will always be one of my favorite months in Rehoboth, there is still something undeniably different about it. The air is different, the crowds are different, and time seems to move at a different pace. Sundance is the way we dance ourselves through the change of seasonsit is both a beginning and an end.
No matter what is happening in our lives at any given moment, we can all use a little more joy. In a world where there is great poverty, terrible war, disease, terrorism, bigotry, homophobia, and hatred, we must all try a little harder to create joy...to let the heart fly free of that which would bind and destroy it. Perhaps, like the native Americans who first danced the Sundance, we too will make the journey that transcends pain and creates joy and love in its place.
Saturday, September 3, from 7-10 p.m. is the Sundance Auction and cocktail buffet, with food provided by the Blue Moon and an open bar. Sunday, September 4, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. is The Sundance with music by Mark Thomas and lights by Paul Turner. Tickets are $70 for both events or $40 for one and are available at CAMP Rehoboth and Lambda Rising Rehoboth, and on the Sundance Web site at www.sundancebenefit.com. For information call CAMP Rehoboth at 302-227-5620.
Photos (from Top): Auction 04; Sundance 05 Illustration; Detail from Heart (In The Wings); Sundance mirrorball 04.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 11 August 12, 2005